Political Analysis

Wiretapping the Phones of Journalists in Yemen

National Yemen

By NY Staff

Information circulated by news sites suggests that Yemeni intelligence is wiretapping Yemeni journalists, including reporters from newspapers, Arab, and Western news agencies. This information sparked extreme anger and annoyance from the press, but some have questioned the credibility of that information.

Many of Yemeni journalists complain about wiretaps on their phone calls. Their evidence is the occurrence of a concussion, rebound, and repeat of the sound they hear when they make calls.

The secretary of the Freedoms Committee at the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate Ashraf al-Reifi said that the issue of spying on the phones of journalists is still among the most serious issues experienced by journalists in Yemen, although the union has received numerous reports of journalists mostly from foreign media correspondents complain of wiretaps on their calls.

Al-Reifi added that the syndicate addressed this issue to the security agencies more than once, and demanded to stop these behaviors but with no response. “There is a clear disregard to our demands, and it seems that such a process increases secrecy and authorities usually deny their involvement in it, although there are indirect messages to justify such violations under the pretext of protecting national security,” he explained.

The Yemeni media in the past two days received the news that National Security Agency (intelligence) wiretaps journalists calls, and more than 21 journalists, rights activists, and military leaders said that their phone calls were wiretapped.

Sources said that Jalal Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, son of the Yemeni president, personally oversees a dedicated team of the National Security Agency to monitor their movements and calls, because they convey news that “threaten the transitional phase,” which is headed by his father under the Gulf Initiative.

The reporter of Xinhua Chinese News Agency, Fares al-Hemirai, who is one of the journalists whose names appeared in the list of the eavesdropping, said that the declaration of a list of journalists and being placed under surveillance is dangerous and annoying, and the possibility of showing the truth of this matter or deny it is in the Yemeni intelligence’s hands. “The intelligence has to monitor the movement of armed groups that threaten the stability of the country through their movements, such as Houthis and al-Qa’eda, instead of monitoring journalists who have only words which are less influential in a community that mostly does not read,” he added.

The chairman of Freedom Foundation, Khalid al-Hammadi, said that there may be spying on some of the press and political figures in Yemen, but the disclosure of it is difficult because it is part of national security that is surrounded with secrets in Yemen.

On the other hand, Fares al-Saqaf, adviser to the Yemeni president, denied that information describing them as systematic work comes in the context of the media campaign to abuse the president of Yemen by accusing his son Jalal that he is behind the wiretaps on the telephones of journalists.

Al-Saqaf said that these are just rumors with no credibility and that the ones who said that are forces who are badly affected by the process of change, such as symbols of the former Yemeni regime.

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